The meandering epicurist

Reid’s Distillery

Riding along the Lakeshore bike path an impatient truck driver emerging from Logan Avenue caused me to wobble into a sign for Reid’s Distillery. Taking this as an omen, I ventured further up Logan to discover the distillery in a repurposed industrial building—an expansive retail shop, curving bar sweeping onto an eclectically furnished lounge and beyond and gleaming pot stills.

Opened in the spring of 2019 by various Reids, father Martin, and his three kids, daughter Jacqueline, and sons Graham and Calvin, the distillery is a happy confluence of events and talents.

Jacqueline, a social media expert found herself in London, marvelling at the newly vibrant Gin scene. Meanwhile, Graham and Calvin were tinkering with beer brewing and Dad was dashing, top-down through the countryside in his 1972 V12 E-Type maroon Jaguar and contemplating a change from banking. Voila! A premium gin distillery.

The printed card in my Reid’s Distillery G&T Pack encourages me to explore the world of G&T’s. It sagely suggests starting with Reid’s gin of my choice, garnish it and top up with tonic water. The pack has two 50ml bottles of their classic blue bottle gin with handwritten batch numbers plus one each of their Citrus and Spiced Gins. Also tucked in there is a bottle of Fentiman’s Tonic water from the UK along with two bottles of my current favourite Fever-Tree tonic, one Cucumber and the other an Aromatic Tonic with Angostura Bark. Lurking is an intriguing bottle of 1642 Yuzu flavoured soda from Montreal. I mentally start to calculate the possible permutations but give up.

And it’s not hard to see the Reid family’s diverse talents and energy shining through in their efforts to demystify gin and cocktail making. From the 10 months of painstaking tinkering with distillations to their square faceted bottles reminiscent of cut-glass decanters topped with vibrant coloured wax like seals, and the hummingly vibrant business venture, they’ve got this! But back to their most popular ‘Cocktails Delivered G&T Pack.’

My exploration begins with their classic gin that won a Silver Medal at the 2020 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and double Gold Medals at the SIP award one for the gin and the other for their bottle design. With two ice cubes, I find an appealing slightly honeyed aroma tempered by juniper and perhaps a ricochet of spice.

The sweetness I’m told comes from Sweetfern gathered near Hudson Bay.

Unlike some more assertive gins that immediately straighten your spine, this is a comfortable contemplative drink. Its nuanced and slowly revealing. Think Beethoven late string quartets. I’m almost reluctant to add tonic. But a short measure of Fentiman’s tonic reveals another side to this lovely gin.

As a chef once said about salt—add a dash, taste, repeat until you find that perfect taste point. I try again with the Yuzu which adds a muted, somewhat woody, citrus flavour transforming my drink. I think I’m getting the hang of this exploration. Reid’s Citrus Gin has a feisty aroma happily tumbling around with juniper and bolstered by a tangy Sumac botanical. Fentiman’s tonic softens it without loosing the sinew of citrus.

Their Spiced Gin, they tell me, is intended to be a warming spice and it is. Rounded aromas of cardamom followed by mixed spices on the palate. A judicious splash or two of Fentiman’s tonic intercedes to smooth out, but not override, the spice.
Free same day delivery in central Toronto and a nominal charge for three-day delivery across the GTA make this, and their other cocktail packs, a wonderful treat or gift in these challenging times.

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